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Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the…

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania

by Erik Larson

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Larson is the master storyteller and can take one event that lasted 18 minutes and spread it out over 450 pages and still make it spell binding. Larson writes narrative non-fiction. The amount of research that went into this book was staggering. [Dead Wake] seems as if it's a suspense thriller. When reading [Dead Wake] one is never sure what the next chapter will bring: Wilson and Edith Galt's romance in DC, the intelligence operatives who worked in Britain's highly secret Room 40, the very wealthy passengers aboard The Lusitania, or Captain Schweiger of the U Boat 20.

Winston Churchill on Germans attacking the Lusitania and leaving civilians and crew “to perish in open boats or drown amid the waves was in the eyes of all seafaring peoples a grisly act, which hitherto had never been practised except by pirates”.

Larson even takes up the many sides of the historical debate: Was the Lusitania made a sitting duck for the Germans to take down so that the U.S. would enter the war? You will have to read the book to find out!

I highly recommend [Dead Wake]. 450 pages 5 stars ( )
  tess_schoolmarm | Jun 24, 2017 |
All I knew about the Lusitania was that it was torpedoed and in one way or another caused the US to join World War I. But there's a lot more to it. Like other Larson books, this combines multiple stories: the Lusitania itself, the U-Boat that sunk her, the beginnings of British Intelligence, and President Woodrow Wilson's love life, of all things. But it meshes quite well. What really got to me, more than anything else, was how narrowly it all happened. If any number of tiny things had changed at all, the boat would not have gone down, so many lives would not have been lost. All in all a fascinating look at this event and its circumstances, full of rich personal details and anecdotes from the passengers and crew. ( )
  melydia | Jun 2, 2017 |
When does a nonfiction book read like a gripping tale of fiction, but is still all true? When it is written by Erik Larson. Alternating narration between the people on the Lusitania and the sailors on the U-20, the story unfolds in fascinating detail. For the U-20 to sink the Lusitania, several twists of fate had to occur in just the right order. Larson’s narration painstaking reveals much about the ship and its passengers and about the boat and its crew, making the story seem like a well-staged drama instead of plain history. Giving personalities to the passengers on the Lusitania provides this tale with a personal touch that makes the sinking all the more tragic to the reader. Larson also details the aspects of the war and the time period, giving just enough information to explain what happened and why. A fascinating account. ( )
  Maydacat | May 21, 2017 |
A quick note that the author ties in the story of Woodrow Wilson, his second wife, and his reluctance to get into World War I rather well. Also, the super secrecy of the British government which worked against warning or help being rendered to the Lusitania. Lauriat of Boston bookstore distinction is mentioned, who survived the sinking. Good footnotes, bibliography and index. ( )
1 vote vpfluke | Mar 18, 2017 |
Very good and informative read. Filled with many interesting details and passenger profiles. ( )
  rlionelpolo | Mar 17, 2017 |
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If creating “an experience” is Larson’s primary goal, then “Dead Wake” largely succeeds. There are brisk cameos by Churchill and Woodrow Wilson, desperate flurries of wireless messages and telegrams, quick flashes to London and Berlin. These passages have a crackling, propulsive energy that most other books about the Lusitania — often written for disaster buffs or steampunk aficionados — sorely lack.
added by amarie | editThe New York Times, Hampton Sides (pay site) (Mar 5, 2015)
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The Captains are to remember that, whilst they are expected to use every diligence to secure a speedy voyage, they must run no risk which by any possibility might result in accident to their ships. They will ever bear in mind that the safety of the lives and property entrusted to their care is the ruling principle which should govern them in the navigation of their ships, and no supposed gain in expedition, or saving of time on the voyage, is to be purchased at the risk of accident. -"Rules to Be Observed in the Company's Service," The Cunard Steam-Ship Company Limited, March 1913
The first consideration is the safety of the U-boat. -Adm. Reinhard Scheer, Germany's High Sea Fleet in the World War, 1919
For Chris, Kristen, Lauren, and Erin
(and Molly and Ralphie, absent, but not forgotten)
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On the night of May 6, 1915, as his ship approached the coast of Ireland, Capt. William Thomas Turner left the bridge and made his way to the first-class lounge, where passengers were taking part in a concert and talent show, a customary feature of Cunard crossings.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307408868, Hardcover)

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author and master of narrative nonfiction comes the enthralling story of the sinking of the Lusitania, published to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the disaster
On May 1, 1915, a luxury ocean liner as richly appointed as an English country house sailed out of New York, bound for Liverpool, carrying a record number of children and infants. The passengers were anxious. Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone, and for months, its U-boats had brought terror to the North Atlantic. But the Lusitania was one of the era's great transatlantic "Greyhounds" and her captain, William Thomas Turner, placed tremendous faith in the gentlemanly strictures of warfare that for a century had kept civilian ships safe from attack. He knew, moreover, that his ship--the fastest then in service--could outrun any threat.

Germany, however, was determined to change the rules of the game, and Walther Schwieger, the captain of Unterseeboot-20, was happy to oblige. Meanwhile, an ultra-secret British intelligence unit tracked Schwieger's U-boat, but told no one. As U-20 and the Lusitania made their way toward Liverpool, an array of forces both grand and achingly small--hubris, a chance fog, a closely guarded secret, and more--all converged to produce one of the great disasters of history.

It is a story that many of us think we know but don't, and Erik Larson tells it thrillingly, switching between hunter and hunted while painting a larger portrait of America at the height of the Progressive Era. Full of glamour, mystery, and real-life suspense, Dead Wake brings to life a cast of evocative characters, from famed Boston bookseller Charles Lauriat to pioneering female architect Theodate Pope Riddle to President Wilson, a man lost to grief, dreading the widening war but also captivated by the prospect of new love. Gripping and important, Dead Wake captures the sheer drama and emotional power of a disaster that helped place America on the road to war.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:20 -0400)

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